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Browns' Hillis defends decision to miss game because of illness

BEREA, Ohio -- Peyton Hillis was too sick to play last Sunday, but the Cleveland Browns running back doesn't believe he needs to provide a doctor's note to prove it.

Hillis, who said he'll play this weekend against the Tennessee Titans, spoke in detail Thursday for the first time since missing last week's game against the Miami Dolphins with a case of strep throat and flu-like symptoms. After staying at the team hotel Saturday night, Hillis went to Cleveland Browns Stadium intending to play but was sent home two hours before kickoff.

Hillis defended the decision for him to miss the game and said he's isn't concerned if others believe he should have played despite his illness.

"The people that really care about me and want the best for me would understand," he said. "And the people that don't, then they don't. But I can't control that. And I'm going to do what's best for me at that point. If it's going to jeopardize my health in that situation, I'm going to take my own life in my own hands and do the best I can."

Hillis said he lost "10 to 12" pounds while he was ill and that he has put back on some of the weight. He explained that after arriving at the stadium, he realized he hadn't recovered enough to dress for the game.

Second-year pro Montario Hardesty made his first NFL start in Hillis' place and ran for 67 yards to help the Browns win 17-16.

It's not known if Cleveland's coaches tried to convince Hillis to play, and he sidestepped that question.

"I don't know if that took place or not," he said. "I think they're more in-tune with how I was feeling and what I was feeling and if I was sick or not."

Browns running back coach Gary Brown doesn't doubt that Hillis was too ill to play.

"I know that he's a stand-up person, and I know that he would die for this football team," Brown said. "He was sick and couldn't go. Trust me, he was going to do everything he could to go."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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